When he awoke from the long unconsciousness and delirium that ensued upon the force he had put on himself, he found himself tended by his sister at Glenuskie. Patrick Drummond had transported him thither; finding that the angry Queen, in the madness of her vindictiveness, was well-nigh disposed to connect him with the treasonable designs of Athol and Graham. He slowly and partially recovered, but his influence was gone; the Queen would not brook the sound of his name, the little king was beyond his reach, James Kennedy was biding his time, and the country was returned to its state of misrule and violence, wherein an individual priest could do little: yet Malcolm would have held by his post, had not his health been so utterly shattered that he was incapable of the work he had hitherto done, as a confessor and a preacher. And therefore, as the state of his beloved King, ’sent to his account unhouselled, disappointed, unannealed,’ hung heavy on his mind, he determined, so soon as he was in any degree convalescent, to set forth on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the object of so many dreams of King Henry; there to offer masses and prayers for the welfare of his departed prince, as well as of the unhappy murderers, and for the country in its distracted condition.
And there, at the Holy Sepulchre, had Malcolm, in the fervour of his heart, offered the greatest treasure he possessed—nay, the only one that he still really cared for—namely his betrothal ring, which Esclairmonde had worn for so long and had returned to him. As a priest, he had deemed that it was not unlawful for him to retain the memorial of the link that had bound him to her who had been the light that led him to the true Light beyond; but as youth passed away, as devotion burned brighter, as the experiences of those years became more dream-like, and the horror, grief, and misery of his King’s death had been assuaged only by the steadier contemplation of the Light of Eternity, he had felt that this last pledge of his once lower aims and hopes ought to be resigned; and that if it cost him a pang, it was well that it should be so, to render the offering a sacrifice. So the ring that had once been Esclairmonde’s protection was laid on the altar of the Holy Tomb.
There Malcolm had well-nigh died, under the influences of agitation, fatigue, and climate; but he had revived enough to set out on his return from his pilgrimage, and had made his way tardily and wearily, losing his attendants through death and desertion on the road; and passing from one religious house to another, as his strength and nearly exhausted means served him. Unable to find any vessel bound for Leith, he had taken ship for London; concealing his quality, lest, in the always probable contingency of a war, it might lead to his being made prisoner; and thus he had arrived, sick indeed unto death, but peaceful, rejoicing, and hopeful.